Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Voltaire

Now I'm no great philosopher but I do like my quotes, especially political ones. At today's Executive Board I recalled this particular quote by Voltaire:
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

This quote was particularly relevant to the subject under discussion, which was approval of a 'new protocol' for use of Queens Square and Llwyn Isaf in Wrecsam which is owned by Wrecsam CBC and is a common location for political parties, pressure groups and activists to gather and listen to speeches or otherwise convey their views (Wrecsam's Hyde Park Corner!!). The protocol consists of a long list of terms and conditions amongst which are:
Events will not be permitted which in the OPINION of the Town Centre Manager, promote political parties, groups, organisations or individuals or which are deemed to be political canvassing.

The background to these draconian illiberal conditions by a Liberal Democrat controlled coalition was to prevent gatherings by the WDL/EDL and the BNP and to prevent disorder. The argument being that the authority couldn't ban some political parties and not others which was fair enough; but one shouldn't ban legitimate, lawful groups and individuals from holding a political rally or protest just because a minority will cause disruption and behave in an offensive manner.

Anyone who gathers in a public place and causes disruption or offence should be dealt with under criminal law by the Police and not by Local Authorities. As for the EDL/WDL there is plenty of evidence that there is disruption and disorder wherever they go and Chief Constables and Council Chief Executives should apply for an order from the Home Secretary to prevent them marching and not 'protocols' such as this.

We should take care that we don't allow the minority to restict the rights of the people to free assembly and free speech. Fortunately a majority of the Executive Board voted to defer the matter for consideration by the Corporate Governance Scrutiny Committee.

After the behaviour of certain elected members preventing other Councillors from attending a 'public meeting' last week, one wonders where certain Councillors (who support this protocol) will stop at restricting the 'civil liberties' of others.

3 comments:

Pangloss said...

Surely this is all for the best, in the best of all possible worlds.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

We should always have high aspirations and do what we can, and not look for reasons not to do things.

Anonymous said...

At the start of the Afghan war a group had a rally in Queens Square to protest against it. The then town centre manager was furious that it had happened without the councils consent. When he was asked if consent would have been given, he said no because it was political. The army recruitment people of course were allowed to use the square as they were not political. So it seems that this policy is already in place unofficially.